Sportswear brand Marcello Sport has been in the wholesale business for more than 26 years, but like a lot of brands these days, this Florida-based menswear powerhouse has also established a growing brick-and-mortar retail business. We got to catch up with Fashion Concepts (the distributor of Marcello Sport) president Michael Apel to ask him about how the company got started in retail, what’s selling, and what he’s learned from running the stores.
“About 10 years ago a very good customer in Ft. Lauderdale was having difficulty during the financial crash. Long story short, we took over his store and rebranded it as Marcello Sport for Men. We made him a partner and have been going strong ever since. Within a few weeks the same situation arose, this time in Sarasota, and we had our second store. We opened in Boca Raton about eight years ago, moving after two years into Mizner Park (also in Boca), a great outdoor shopping center.”
Readers may recall the tragic collapse of the Champlain Tower in Surfside, Florida, in June of 2021. The industry lost savvy retailer and owner of the Fiorelli menswear boutique Angela Velasquez (as well as her husband and daughter) in the catastrophe. Velasquez’s son had no interest in menswear, so Marcello Sport added another location to its operation, retaining the Fiorelli nameplate in honor of the original owner.
“Last month we opened our fifth location in Palm Beach Gardens [TOP IMAGE],” says Apel. “Next up, possibly a new outdoor center in Aventura, Fla., sometime next year!”
“Retail, while it has its ups and downs has been pretty good for us. Obviously being vertical on 85% of the products sold gives us much better margins than typical men’s retail. Our wholesale division, selling over 250 better men’s specialty shops, our five retail stores, and a national catalog (sending out 25,000 to 30,000 catalogs every month!), allows us to create great product, get excellent pricing from our factories given our volume, and offer many product categories. It’s a formula that works really well for us. We use all our stores as an additional warehouse and constantly move goods around as needed.
“We offer a fabulous collection of better men’s sport shirts and are on fire with a one-piece Italian roll collar that we perfected, and sales are outstanding in every division. We have an incredible sweater collection — possibly one of the best in the industry — and offer great jeans, a fabulous dress shirt program, and an expansive knit program of tees, polos, short-sleeved fancy knitwear, etc.
“We have suggested to owners of large volume retail stores or multiple locations or even groups of stores that could buy together to consider private label and custom designed products. The margins would be considerably better for them, but it’s not easy to put this together. We actually have a serious private label division that is operating and growing!”
With five — almost six — stores and counting, not to mention that vibrant catalog and wholesale business, don’t be surprised to see Marcello Sport spreading a little Florida sunshine near you!